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the next level

While I was in Rockford, IL we went to a lot of chain restaurants. You know, those upscale chain restaurants with a theme. Like The Thunder Bay Grille, where a waiter offered to take our meal to "the next level".

The waiter had clearly been honing his schtick, but I honestly don't think he was cut out for it. I think his schtick would have been a little bit more appropriate for, like, an extreme sports tour guide or something...I don't know if it was really satisyfying him to serve food.

We all ordered entrees, and all of them came with various soup and salad elements. Also, on the table they had these flat drop buscuits that I think were supposed to resemble hard-tack, but they were so mealy and filled with corn syrup, I don't think that's how people aye them in the wild west, if you know what I mean.

(Note: Are references to the wild west lost on international readers? Andrea? Shauna?)

So we're all sitting there, finishing up our limp salads, when the young waiter, after putting our entrees on a little tray, says, "Are you guys ready to take it to the next level?" meaning, well...dinner. We assured him that we could handle the intensity that was our entree, and he served us.

Now my mom, had ordered her favorite entree there. It's an entree where they have penne noodles, big hunks of salmon, and asparagus, all drenched in this creamy sauce. My mom really likes it, but she doesn't like it so sauce drenched, so she asks for the sauce on the side.

One would assume this to mean that she liked all of the salmon, veggies and pasta on one plate, and the the sauce on the the side. Evidently, however, only about one out of three times she ordered the dish, did she receive it this way.

This time the waited confidently brought her a plate with the asparagus and salmon drenched in sauce, and the noodles on the side. "Here's your side of sauce," he said confidently, "that's how they do it!"

My mom was a little dismayed, but not really entirely surprised. She tried to explain a little, and our server, who clearly wasn't bringing us to the next level, mumbled out some excuses and took off.

He tried again later (to try and recover some semblance of a tip) and sort of tried to re-explain, "You see, the cook didn't want the fish and asparagus to get dry, so he served it like that. I understand that wasn't really what you wanted. If you want it like that next time, maybe you should say you want, 'Everything in one plate, except...'"

"The sauce, on the side?" my mom inturrupted.



I so have this same problem when I go to the local Applebee's and Outback. At both restuarants, they are so stupid sometimes that I want to get up out of my chair and go into the kitchen and cook the damn thing myself. (You are aware, Daniel, that I have a degree in the culinary arts? I know damn well how to cook food. And I'm not as stupid as these kitchen freaks think I am.) I ask for Tuna - rare, or Steak - rare , or Salmon - medium rare. I actually have to tell the server to tell the cook "Take the tuna, slap it on the grill. Make pretty marks. Flip it over. Make pretty marks. Take it off." And they *still* give it to me well done. (If I want it well done, I'll go get my Chicken of the Sea on, dammit.) Once, I asked for a steak, medium rare, and the server actually said to me she didn't think the cook could do it. WHAT?!?

Anyway, if the reason for your mom's dilemma was because "he didn't want the asparagus and fish to get dry", then the bastard overcooked them both, and was trying to hide it with the sauce. I hate it when they try to hide crap like that. (I actually worked at a restaurant once where a guy overcooked a piece of salmon, and drowned the thing in beet juice to cover the dryness of the fish. Idiot.) Argh!

Okay. I've vented. I'll shut up now. ;)

nope. i get it. mealy biccies sound absolutely foul, btw.

lets not forget where this all went down, Dan. Whenever in Rockford your expectations in all things should drop. Consider yourself lucky they even HAD salmon.